Apple Intelligence

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The EU’s competition chief and European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager says that Apple’s decision to withhold its Apple Intelligence AI features from the EU is a “stunning declaration” of its anticompetitive behavior, in what might be the funniest twist in the story yet. 

Vestager’s latest scathing attack follows Apple’s seismic decision not to roll out Apple Intelligence, coming to iPhone, iPad, and Mac, with iOS 18 and beyond, in the EU. In a statement, Apple said that “due to the regulatory uncertainties brought about by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), we do not believe that we will be able to roll out three of these features — iPhone Mirroring, SharePlay Screen Sharing enhancements, and Apple Intelligence — to our EU users this year.” 

Given the EU’s penchant for all things competitive, the move seemed fairly reasonable. Integrating ChatGPT into iOS 18, macOS Sequoia, and iPadOS 18 could raise questions about competition between other AI platforms such as Google Gemini or Meta’s platform. Perhaps more likely, there’s always the chance that the EU could have clamped down on Apple for not making Apple Intelligence available on Android or Windows. It might sound far-fetched, but the EU has surprised us before. 

“Apple’s concern is well-founded,” antitrust and litigation expert Florian Mueller told iMore. “The EU’s AI Act is just about to enter into force, but the EU has numerous digital market laws and regulations already. They want to apply other statutes than the AI Act to AI technologies, among them the DMA.” Mueller tells us it’s “not plausible” that Apple is trying to strong-arm the EU, dissuading them from enforcing the DMA regarding other parts of its business, but rather that “Apple just wants to err on the side of caution here and first find out from the EU what its expectations are for DMA compliance in the AI context.” Turns out, the EU doesn’t feel the same way.

The EU’s scathing antitrust attack on Apple Intelligence 

In comments reported by Euractiv from the Foruma Europa Event, Vestager said the move to hold Apple Intelligence back from the EU was a “stunning, open declaration that they know 100% that this is another way of disabling competition where they have a stronghold already.” “The ‘short version of the DMA [Digital Markets Act]’ is that to operate in Europe, companies have to be open for competition,” the report continued. 

So what are we to make of all this? “Apple’s vision of AI being deeply woven into the fabric of its software is antithetical to the EU idea of making everything subject to defaults that users can change,” said Mueller, noting the EU’s vision is “probably” an AI choice screen similar to its default browser setting introduced to present users a choice beyond Safari. 

Hilariously, the EU has clamped down so aggressively on Apple’s core business practices, the strong interweaving of hardware, software, and services, that the company seems terrified of putting another foot wrong by introducing arguably its most interwoven and seismic OS change yet. However, Apple has also apparently behaved anticompetitively by choosing to delay (or perhaps permanently withhold) the feature. There’s no denying that some of the changes made in the EU, such as alternative app marketplaces and sideloading, might have improved iOS, but you have to imagine the folks at Cupertino are scratching their heads with this one. “I think Apple’s message here is that uncertainty is bad for business and, by extension, for end users,” Mueller adds. “I respectfully disagree with the characterization of Apple’s cautious approach as anticompetitive behavior,” he says. “The competitive process is not harmed by Apple’s decision to obtain legal certainty prior to sliding headlong into another round of regulatory proceedings.  Apple is not preventing anyone else from offering AI-powered services.”

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The news follows a European Commission announcement earlier this week that states Apple’s App Store rules “are in breach of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), as they prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternative channels for offers and content,” despite the company’s recent changes. If Apple can’t convince the EU otherwise, or make enough changes to its satisfaction, the company faces fines of up to 10% of its worldwide turnover, arguably enough to make the company think twice about operating there at all.  

Enjoy Apple Intelligence for less:

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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore’s latest breaking news regarding all of Apple’s products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

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